Well, I’m both rambunctious and skeered this week. Marrying Minda is set for release. If you like mail-order bride stories (and even if you don’t J) I hope you’ll give it a whirl. The story did well in contests and therefore got some good remarks from judges, but my favorite comment came from a judge who wrote, I’m familiar with Nebraska. I can tell your setting is somewhere near Platte Center.
Yowza! Minda comes all the way to Nebraska and marries the wrong guy (a gorgeous cowboy) in a little town I named Paradise and loosely based on what I reckon Platte Center might have been like way back when. Established by German and Irish homesteaders, Platte Center today is a pretty village of 400 or so in the metropolitan Columbus area.
The question is: Why Platte Center? Ya’ll may have picked up on the fact that I’m a Californian born and bred. Well, the love affair started when I was seventeen. In the pages of a college catalog. There it was, a classic New England-style campus in a town of cobbled streets and stately courthouse, with Nebraska farmland rolling around the edges and Plum Creek burbling nearby. Oh, it was my destiny to be one of those coeds in a plaid mini skirt, penny loafers crunching fallen autumn leaves on my way to a football game.
“No,” my dad without hesitation, not even looking at the catalog. “Too far. I’d worry too much.”
Never say never. After a semester at the community college during which I wheedled and whined about how I was Mature Enough to go away to school, I finally wore him down. On a balmy Los Angeles morning in January, he put me on a plane to Nebraska (my first flight) and three hours later, I landed on what might well have been a different planet.
No jetway to debark the plane. Sub zero blasts of frigid air. Wind chill. (What the heck is wind chill? Hmmmmmm. Sub zero blasts of frigid air.) Sure, I wore a scarf and gloves and a new winter coat, but California-level wool didn’t stand a chance. Within two days, every square inch of my skin was chapped; I cost Mom and Daddy a fortune in collect calls that first week. There was no such thing as free minutes back then. Homesickness broke my heart. You were right, Daddy. Sob.
But…then I saw snow fall for the first time. Slid on my backside the entire way down the ice-slicked porch steps of my dorm. Survived a blizzard. (Although I was reminded once again how much wind chill sucks.) Got a Valentine from a secret admirer. Visited my roommate’s farm and devoured some hearty down-home meals. And in spring, watched baby lambs carouse around a pasture all the while lilacs exploded all over town. I was hooked. I was a cornhusker.
So where else to set a Western historical romance but Nebraska?
Indeed much of it has to do with godson Nathan, my kids’ close friend. Just as California born and bred as I am, he spent every summer since age two on his grandparents’ farm in P.C. And after getting his degree in agriculture a few years ago at a California university, he put down his own roots in the ancestral stomping grounds.
Soon he fell in love with a local P.C. girl. That meant a wedding. I was invited. I went. Back to Nebraska. And once again, I was hooked. For five more days of my life, I got to be a cornhusker again. Oh goodness. I rode a tractor and admired cornfields. Saw an hours-old calf. Explored historic cemeteries.
And loved every minute of it.
Back home, Nate’s love story still lived in my head. When it came time to pick a setting for Minda and her cowboy, I knew I’d found the Mother Lode. Perhaps I should say bumper crop.
Well, we all know Minda and her cowboy have a happy ending. How about that Platte Center bride and groom?
Doing great! Nate farms for a large agribusiness, and they’ve set up house in the historic farmhouse built by his great-great-grandparents on the five acres left from a section of farmland. I suggested to Nate he use those five acres for an animal sanctuary and boutique crops such as blackberries and herbs. He just shook his head and said, This is Nebraska, Tanya. Not California.
Oh, his junction’s got some fillies, too. A real new baby filly, and two little girls all his own.
Nate and his family plan on coming to California for our daughter’s wedding in August. That’s…hmmm 1500 miles. Same distance I traveled to his. Now today’s big question. How far have YOU ever traveled for a wedding?
P.s. I’ll be drawing a name today from all who post for a copy of Marrying Minda.
P.p.s. I for one could seriously ride off into a sunset like this one!
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